CARGO operators at the Apapa port have warned that the recent ban on motorcycle taxis and tricycles by the Lagos State government threatens to cripple the clearance of goods and further exacerbate the congestion around the facility.
Earlier this week, Governor Sanwoolu announced severe restrictions on Okada and Keke usage across the state, forcing thousands of drivers into unemployment. Police were out in full force seizing erring vehicles and mobility technology companies like Gokada, ORide and Max.ng, who have invested about $100m in the sector, face going bust.
Over the last few days, there have been widespread demonstrations across Lagos as taxi drivers have clashed with the police. Motorcycle taxis popularly known as Okadas and tricycles known as Kekes, are the major form of transportation in many parts of Lagos metropolis and this ban has already led to severe hardships, with commuters having to trek long distances.
Adding its voice to the debate, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (Ancla) has said that the ban would cripple cargo clearance at the Apapa ports. Apapa, which houses Nigeria’s bulk cargo and container ports, is an environmental hazard at the moment as due to the absence of a rail link, trailers going to collect containers line the roads rendering it impassable to other motorists.
Also, as a result of the number of heavy vehicles on the road, it has deteriorated dramatically, becoming pot hole-ridden and flooded. Last year, while campaigning for office, Governor Sanwoolu promised to decongest the Oshodi-Apapa expressway within his first 60 days of being in office.
Collins Farinto, the Ancla vice president, said that most agents rode on commercial motorcycles to the ports to clear their cargoes. He added that the agents performed 99% of their ports’ operations by patronising Okada riders, pointing out that they used them when processing the documents meant to clear their goods within a short period to avoid incurring demurrage charges.
Mr Farinto said: “Everybody can testify to it that the activities relating to getting cargo documents processed have been made easy due to the availability of commercial motorcycles. About 99% of our job is done by transporting ourselves on motorcycles.
“If we now have any consignment to clear at the Tin-Can Port or Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, we have to trek or drive through the bad roads. Banning of motorcycles will have adverse effects on the economy of the state.
“This is not what the Lagos State governor promised us during his campaign. He promised to review and protect the operations of motorcycles.”
Adding that the move will hurt commerce, Mr Farinto implored the government to reconsider the operations of motorcycles within the ports, to enable the clearing agents meet their deadlines. Nigerian Ports Authority officials have said that they are looking to dredge other ports such as Calabar, Port Harcourt and Warri to ease the pressure on Apapa.